In light of comments made by President Trump last Friday and the actions of NFL players, coaches and owners on Sunday prior to week three’s slate of games, the topic of standing for the National Anthem has become a controversial and highly-contested one. The President has continued to bang the drum that everyone should stand and honor the flag and the anthem. If they don’t, he firmly believes they should face punishment. This belief has been met with criticism from free-speech activists who say it’s well within a player or coaches right to take a knee during the anthem if they so choose.
Now it seems as if a high school in Louisiana is following the President’s lead. A letter sent out to student-athletes of Parkway High School in Bossier City, Louisiana on Thursday was discovered by Shaun King of The Intercept and in it, the school’s principal, Waylon Bates, announced that all of the school’s athletes would be required to stand for the anthem.
Citing rules outlined by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) that grant principals of schools the power “to make decisions regarding student participation in the National Anthem while competing in athletic contests and games,” Bates said that failure “to stand in a respectful manner” while the anthem plays would result in loss of playing time or in some cases, being removed from the team.
The announcement by Bates comes on the heels of Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith saying on Wednesday that he expects student-athletes to stand for the anthem.
“It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans,” Smith said in a statement.
Parkway High School is one of seven high schools in the Bossier School system, located outside of Shreveport. In his statement, Smith handed off discipline powers for those caught not standing for the anthem over to the individual schools, a move that falls in line with the policy of the LHSAA, which was made clear following Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the anthem throughout the 2016 NFL season.
“The LHSAA is a principal’s organization whereas in these situations the LHSAA Rules and Regulations do not take precedence,” the release said in 2016. “Therefore, any/all decisions related to individuals and/or teams expressions exhibited during any pre-event national anthem at a LHSAA regular season and/or postseason game, match, meet or contest, will be determined by each individual member school and/or member school’s school district.”
King tweeted the photo of the letter to the American Civil Liberties Union’s Twitter account, asking if the move to discipline students for not standing was even legal.
This story definitely seems to be far from over.
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